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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Watch out Spotify - blockchain is coming to the digital music industry!


Choon is out the change the way the game is played, entirely - and with a team that could actually pull it off.

I've never talked about what I refer to as my 'weekend life' in an article here before, or anywhere in the cryptocurrency world really.  I co-founded an independent record label in 2006, with over 50 releases on it today, i've been a producer on several projects on several other labels as well.  Been on-air at 4 different radio stations in the San Francisco bay area, and worked marketing for some of the largest music events in the country, largest being Miami's Ultra Music Festival.

I don't make a habit of endorsing ICOs, so that alone is rare - I just want people to understand why i'm endorsing this one - I fully understand the problems Choon is trying to solve, and furthermore - know the people behind this are well connected enough in the music industry end to follow though.

Gareth Emery, one of the projects founders is a household name in the electronic music world.  Someone who's also experiencing the problems Choon will solve first hand, his music gets over 1.5 million streaming listeners a month - and that's just spotify.  Along with his partner Bjorn Niclas, who knows the world of artist management and booking talent, and two qualified coders and engineers Matt Hall and John Watkinson who have worked on projects together for over a decade.

I spoke to Gareth Emery himself to get the full run down on the project, where it's at now, and where they hope to take it.

- Let's do a "before and after" so people understand the problem then the solution. 
Walk me through the current process: a musician has a finished song, they want to get it heard and of course, get paid. How does that work under current business models?

The current business is a mess. It’s a legacy model, designed in the days of sheet music and jukeboxes, and is totally unsuitable for the modern digitized world. However, it happens to work quite well for major record labels and publishers, so these institutions have a vested interest in keeping things as they are.

Here’s roughly how it works for a song of mine. First, I’ll sign it to a record label. For a major label, that can be 3-6 months of paperwork, lawyers, etc, for an independent, a bit less. Deals and contracts are done with oldschool pen and paper, or at best, sending signed PDFs via emails.

Once the track comes out, getting paid takes a really, really long time. First, the streaming service need to account to the record label. This typically happens twice a year, but the service get an extra three months to pull together their accounts. So, a stream in January, would fall into the January-June accounting period, meaning they’d have to account to the label three months after that – that’s October 1st.

Then, once income goes to the record label, the exact same game gets paid – they account every six months, with three months at the end to get their shit together.

Are you asleep yet? Haha. Long story short, it takes at least a year, and sometimes as much as two years to get paid after a stream or a sale occurs. You receive a statement, which is typically hundreds of pages of unintelligible data, which makes it totally impossible to know whether the numbers are right. There’s zero transparency: the streaming service could be screwing the label, and the label could be screwing you. You just never know. It’s a mess.

- Now walk me though the process using Choon, same situation: musician has a song ready to go, then what?

Upload a song. If you own that song 100% yourself, it’s really easy. The song gets streamed, and your royalties are immediately paid to your Choon Wallet via our in-built payment token Notes (NTS). There’s no long-term deal – if you don’t like our service, you can leave at any time.

I feel like this answer should be longer, but it really is that simple.

- Tell me about the concept of a "smart record contract".

A Smart Record Contract basically replaces the music industry’s antiquated ways of doing accounting. If you’ve written a song with other people, you can create a contract together where you all agree the percentage splits on the track. When the track makes money, the NTS is split, based on the contract, and distributed to everyone’s wallets in real time.

There are various other applications for music smart contracts: in our White Paper we’ve got ideas for smart licensing contracts, sampling contracts, management contracts, but this is where it starts. You can see a live demo of a Smart Record Contract in action here: choon.co/crypto

- So now let's talk about listeners point of view. They see an artist/band they like tweet to 'check them 
out on choon' and follow a link, then what? How do they join? Fees involved? etc..

It’s going to be very simple. A lot of our early PR has been focused on the advantages for artists, which has lead some listeners to assume that means the experience for them is going to be worse. That is not the case. Our aim is to cut out middlemen / intermediaries and provide a better experience for both listeners and artists. You’ll be able to listen, without an account, or sign-up for advert-free ‘all you can eat’ streaming. The only time you’ll pay separately is if you want to download a song, or something voluntary, like tipping.

- Your site mentions about ways for listeners to earn tokens, how will that work?

Artists will be able to offer Notes to promote songs; meaning there will be a selection of songs you can basically get paid to listen to. Plus, we will be introducing options for curators of playlists to also get paid:  playlist curators are pretty valuable people in the modern music economy, and they’ve never really managed to
get paid for their work.

- One thing I loved to hear was that development has started before the ICO! Not the other way
around. So what's your timeline like? When do you aim to have a demo ready for people to check out, and what comes after that?

There’s already a demo of a Smart Record Contract in action over at choon.co/crypto which actually features an exclusive new track by me and Ashley Wallbridge. If you scroll down the page, you can check the contract which is running on testnet, and see how the Notes are being distributed.

The first version of the full site will be Q1, 2018. What really excites me about Choon is that none of the technical implementation is especially difficult. We’ve got some amazing technical co-founders in Matt Hall and John Watkinson, who already have a successful digital-rights blockchain project under their belt (larvalabs.com/cryptopunks), so it’s primarily building out the streaming service.

Over the last year, I’ve read a lot of white papers and watched many ICOs and I find so many just rely on projected technological advances that might never happen. This isn’t the case here. We’ve also got a true path to adoption, which is also important. I mean, your blockchain-based company might have great ideas, but if you don’t have presence in the industry, how are you going to make sure people actually adopt your product?

We’ve got an insane team of founders and advisers, including a Grammy-award winner (RAC), a top-music manager, the UK’s leading music business manager… and we’re all still working at the coalface of the music industry, so we know how to make this happen. And the interest has been unprecedented. We had over 400 artists sign up wanting to stream their music via Choon in the first week alone. It’s pretty mad.

- Will there be an ICO, and if so, what are the details?

Yes, although it’ll be a fairly limited Pre Product Token Sale rather than the typical “raise as much as possible” deal. After launching, we realized we were a lot further on in terms of the technical development, and we don’t actually want to raise more from the community than we need to.

Right now, we’re looking at December 18th – it will be a super-short, two or three day affair. We’re still bolting down the final details here, but if interested, people can sign up for our newsletter over at choon.co and they’ll be the first to know. Thanks!


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Author: Ross Davis
San Francisco News Desk